Community Tasting Journal: 2000 Aged Tieguanyin

tasting tea together with our community!

May 21, 2020

Together, we are a tea community.

Our dream is for tea companies to fade into the background, to be a connecting force between passionate farmers and the people who love their work; telling the stories of producers, sharing their goals and – in turn – sharing community feedback and well-wishes with families like the Zhang Family in Anxi.

As a Verdant first, we are excited to share a community tasting journal, a collection of notes not from us, not from Master Zhang, but from you – from the kind folks we are lucky enough to share tea with who have made Master Zhang’s teas and our other partner’s teas a part of daily life.

 

For our first community journal, we wanted to focus on a a beautiful unique tea, Master Zhang’s 2000 Aged Tieguanyin. Tasting this tea is not only tasting the place and the craft, but also the story of 20 years of aging and refiring.

Below are the community notes we’ve received so far.

Want to add yours?
Email us, or add them as a comment at the bottom.

We’d love to get some discussion going to make this a real community tasting, so feel free to add your thoughts!

 

From: Max Duckler

Upon opening, we were greeted with a platoon of little pebbles

Our First smell in water:
High mountain scrub brush growing from granite cracks.
Hints of geosmin.
Roasted creamy
Earthy
Peat
Scottish lowlands in the fog. Keeping the mossy and peaty aromas.

Taste
Earthy.
Rich at first, mellows to just a waft of aggression being chokeheld by a buttery quilt (made of lace) covered army of very smooth-talking flavors of saxophone-playing Alpine wildflowers growing in an abandoned fire pit.

2nd steeping even softer like a warm gray SNOW bathrobe

 

From David:

These are the tasting notes that kicked off this Community Tasting Journal project! 

Earlier this month, I sent five mystery teas to my Dad, and he sent me back tasting notes for all of them. His tasting notes were so inspirational in their unique perspective on each of these five mystery teas. It got me thinking about how fun it would be to organize a community tea tasting, starting with one of those five mystery teas, and collect together LOTS of community notes.

Now, just a few weeks later – here we are with a community tasting journal full of unique perspectives, great tea lovers, and great tasting notes for Master Zhang’s 2000 Aged Tieguanyin.

Thank you!

From: Anonymous A

Weather: 53F and Drizzly in Southeastern Pennsylvania

5g 2000 aged TGY brewed in 100mL gaiwan with 190°F Pennsylvania Spring Water

Dry Leaf smells roasty and floral

Wet leaf smells like roasty malts and dark stonefruit

Taste: Stewed plums, light sweetness, floral with minerality, mild astringency, and some acidic sparkle.

Over the steepings the stonefruit fades, but a lasting floral and vegetal flavor persists

Wife notes are “It tastes like tea. I like it.”   X-P

 

From David:

I am so happy you got to participate in this tasting, and grateful for your support. I look forward to getting your notes up on the new community notes page I am working on.

I bet the Pennsylvania spring water makes a big difference. When I was living out east, I remember particularly sweet rich spring water, which should match Master Zhang’s own water nicely. I like the stewed plums note- There is always something so fruity and dessert-like drinking these aged teas from Master Zhang. He thinks so too, and makes the most of it by packing jars of aged Tieguanyin with honey and setting them aside for years to come together and grow. I wish I could bring in the honey to share!

From: Anonymous B

Weather conditions –
is it humid and hot

Tea set up –
Tea tasting set
Filtered water

Dry Leaf –
wood, grass, light cedar

Wet Leaf –
In this sequence–Smoke, peat, spice (a spice-y burn), unsweetened dark chocolate, dark fruit-cherry


Tasting the Tea:

Aroma –
Very mild after smelling the wet leaf. Almost neutral, mostly smoke followed by a hint of “a plain lipton black tea bag” smell (not a bad thing–its familiar and nice!)

Taste –
Does the flavor of the tea evoke any special connections for you?
An old empty attic (wood) with a window-dust in the ray of sunlight, mystery and curiosity, old age and personal history
Spice, wood, smoke, caramelization (could be the creme brulee’ color association because its not a sweet caramel). After letting it cool to room temperature, vanilla

Texture – How does the tea actually feel as you sip it?
Creamy, heavy, smooth

Aftertaste – After you are finished with the tea, what sensations linger on?
In this sequence: a contraction and sensation of bitterness, then an opening and release of peat that lingers

Anything else you want to note:
This is my first tasting experience and it was a fun exercise in imagination. Thanks for the opportunity!

Questions for Master Zhang?
From what I gather, the tea is roasted multiple times through the aging process, right?
How is the tea stored in between roasts?

What is Master Zhang trying to accomplish with this tea?
Is he aiming for specific flavors and aromas? Or is he following a process and leaving the results open? Is it a balance between the two? Through the process, discovering certain characteristics and, either bringing them forward or suppressing them, etc. So many questions….haha.

Also, please let Master Zhang know I appreciate the work he is doing!
His work and the opportunity to dive deeper into tea is bringing me so much joy

 

From David:

I love the image of wood in the attic and the dust floating through the window- I feel like I can taste that feeling exactly. These aged teas are so evocative! That’s what makes tasting so much fun. I like your observation about the vanilla as the tea gets cooler- it is interesting to see how much temperature affects the tasting experience, from hot to room temp all the way to ice cold. So much interplay between aroma and taste perception. We were just tasting this tea again yesterday and getting that same vanilla note. So cool.

I am working with Master Zhang in the evenings on getting together his spring harvests, which are just finishing up, and I have definitely passed on your compliments. He is so happy to hear that people are appreciating the sensory experience of his teas across the world. He is really modest, but his passion for craft shines through no matter what.

Good questions on storage and aesthetic goals. For aging, yes the tea is roasted multiple times. This one was roasted six times in total, with the specific goal to control and reduce moisture levels for a slow and dry aging process. After six years, Master Zhang didn’t need to continue roasting the tea as it had stabilized its moisture levels with the environment. This can be different for every batch. He stores his teas in airtight containers for aging, limiting their exposure to light, air and moisture.

In general, Master Zhang describes himself as a collaborator. He says tea is a joint project between the earth, the sky, and the people. He works to cultivate in the best ways possible for each spot on the mountain, and when the tea is picked, he uses all his senses to better understand what the tea wants to become, pushing towards that goal. He can accentuate certain elements through finishing, but never pushes a tea in a direction it wasn’t already tending towards. His process adapts by the second to the smells and sensory inputs he gets, and it is never the same twice for any batch.

Hopefully that helps answer some of your questions. Thanks again!

From: Marcus 墨

My partner has the better tasting skills. The first steep, he said peach leaf. The fourth steep, he said raw cherry with salt. I can only appreciate and wonder from afar.

On a different day, with the same numbers –5g, 100ml, 100C– I give it another try. After a wash, I get a tangy sensation on the sides of my tongue with the first 35-second steep.

The 2nd steep finally really gets my attention. I sense the zap and vibrations on the top and back of the tongue. I contemplate: 20 years. What was I doing when I was 20 years old? What was I doing in the year 2000?

A couple steeps later, its dimming quality is like a tempting and wise sweetness and flavor. Is 20 years in tea like 60 in human years?

After a couple steeps at 3 and 4 minutes, I decide to boil the leaves for several minutes on the stove. I taste a lot of flavor and bitterness and don’t know what to do with that other than to consider boiling leaves more often to see what happens.

 

from David:

Thank you so much Marcus!

It is really fun to taste tea with other people. When I drink tea in a group, other tasting notes shouted out always influence what I am physically tasting. I wonder if you got any of the peach leaf or raw cherry and salt once you hear it from your partner. Lily and Wang Huimin always have wild tasting notes that are so fun to hear mid-sip.

I really like the notes on electricity and vibrations on the palate. Those sensations are what I really try to seek out every day when I pick out what to brew and how to brew it. I often get the most packed sensations like that when brewing with very hot water, especially in a gaiwan or well-seasoned pot. I find it across the board in the best teas from early harvests in Laoshan, to wild sheng pu’er in Qianjiazhai, and of course with Master Zhang’s oolong.

It is humbling to think about the age of some of these teas, or of the tea plants themselves. In Qianjiazhai with the ancient trees it feels like we are the passers-by tasting tea from a tree that existed in the Song Dynasty and will hopefully continue to exist long after we are gone. With aged Tieguanyin, it is even more pronounced because I am imagining Master Zhang personally finishing these very leaves when he was young, thinking about his life ahead. He has achieved so much in 20 years, leading Daping out of the commune era and being a teacher and a student of tea disciplines across China, as well as a champion of bioverse farming techniques.

Thank you so much for tasting this tea with us!

From: Anonymous C

I’ve been looking forward to this all day. I’m working from home during quarantine, realizing today is day 53. I spent the day poring over excel spreadsheets, redoing all of our projected sales figures to account for the indefinite closure of our tasting salon. I put on Pink Floyd and open my laptop.

It was a hot day, in the 90’s. Once it gets dark, the temperature plummets due to our proximity to the Pacific Ocean here in Sonoma County. It’s now in the low 60’s and perfect for a hot cup of tea. I open all of the windows to let in the cool night air, which smells faintly of eucalyptus and dry grasses.

I wash all of my teaware, rinsing and drying each piece carefully.

I open the 25g bag of tea and smell the dry leaves. After each sniff, I smell my shirt to recalibrate my sense of smell. The tea is redolent of cocoa powder, vanilla, dried orange peel, brown butter, caramel, nori, and hay – subtle but lingering.

I draw filtered water from my refrigerator filter, boiling it on the stove in a bright red kettle. Once boiling, I pour a small amount of water into a 26 oz yeti thermos, put the cap on, and shake it to pre-heat the container. I pour out the water into the sink and refill the thermos with fresh boiling water, screwing the cap on tightly.

I weigh out 6 grams of the 2000 aged Tieguanyan into a white porcelain chahe, preparing to brew in a simple, unadorned 120ml white porcelain gaiwan. I pre-heat the gaiwan with boiling water, pour it out, and add the tea. I pour around the outside of the gaiwan, as instructed, and not directly onto the tea. The tea steeps for ten seconds before I decant the liquor into my lotus pitcher, and then into my 60ml ‘school of fish’ cup. I leave the gaiwan lid slightly cracked.

The freshly opened gaiwan wafts notes of milk chocolate, cooked malt, chicory coffee, and dried sage from the wet tea leaves. The tea liquor is pale as the rolled leaves have not yet opened. The flavor is subtle and delicate, with hints of dried grasses and subtle floral aromatics.

The second steeping of 15 seconds yields a light caramel liquor. The floral character is more evident in the aromatics, with citrus blossom and peach skin backed with a rich, roasted note. On the palate the tea fleshes out in texture, becoming richer.

The third steeping of 20 seconds produces an amber liquid in the cup. The leaves are partially unrolled and a dried guava and mango character begins to emerge, like a tropical confection encased in toffee.

After the fourth steeping, a burnt orange tone creeps into the color of the tea. A subtle spice character enters the mix, nutmeg and allspice, perfectly complementing the dried fruit and perfumed floral aromatics of the tea. The liquor is almost sweet, with a long finish that continues to evolve long after the tea is swallowed.

After the seventh steep, the delicate floral aromatics begin to decline, replaced by rich, dark fruit and torrefied roast character. A cooked green character emerges as well, like a hint of sautéed spinach.

At ten steepings, I light a mini-stick of cloud song aloeswood incense and sit back into the couch. Before I began the tasting, I was slightly irritable and mentally sluggish. Now I feel as if my attention is honed to a point, but without the anxiety I get after drinking coffee. I feel prepared to focus my attention on a good book, fully relaxed and present. I am energized, but calm.

This was a good exercise as I was obliged to fully focus on the tea, putting aside distractions and digging deep to trace the evolution throughout the session. I’m happy to keep these notes anonymous.

 

from David:

The scene you set for the tasting is very evocative. I can smell the air when the temperature drops in Sonoma from the hot day to cool night. The eucalyptus and dry grass sound like a fantastic backdrop for this tea, which Master Zhang talks about as more of a Chinese Medicine. Indeed, a lot of the oldest aged Tieguanyins start to pick up a cooling eucalyptus quality of their own.

I love the purposeful approach you’ve taken, in prepping the teaware, smelling the tea, and really being there for all the sensations of each steeping. I think you really capture that beautiful dynamic tension between the deep aged savory notes, and the florals and hints of the tropics in the aroma- artifacts that point to the juicy floral/fruity core of fresh Tieguanyin, carefully preserved through decades of aging and firing.

Aloeswood is a great idea for this tea too- the grounding depth of the late infusions can shape the rich spice of the aloeswood in such a beautiful way. Master Zhang is happiest to hear that his teas feel good, even above flavor and aroma, the feeling you are left with from a tea is a critical piece, and one that he thinks about every day.

I am grateful for the notes, and the chance to experience your tasting in such detail through each steeping so that they can help inform my next tasting of this 2000 Aged Tieguanyin.

From: Clem

The dry balled leaves have a comforting and familiar smell, but hard to identify! Perhaps, some kind of nuts, flour and wood come to mind. I am using a small gaiwan, 60 ml or so, with enough tea to fill to the lid when expanded. Tasting first thing in the morning, before eating, bright 9 o’clock sun streaming in the window. I use quadruple filtered tap water – coarse and fine filters coming into house, then a large under-sink filter for the drinking water spigot, and lastly an activated carbon cartridge pitcher system. It is very clean, almost as good as the best spring water, to my taste. Water is heated initially to full boil, and relaxed a little in later steepings to maybe 96 C.

After 1st steep of a few seconds, the wet tea in the gaiwan -and the lid- smell like baked cherry dessert to me, or perhaps dried cherries in a whole wheat bread or cake. The cherry desserts I am remembering are rustic, with fresh picked tart cherries or black cherries, and less sugar, maybe not what everyone would think of! The tea liquid smells wonderful also, the same but a little milder. The sips bring in more of the aroma of course!

The 2nd brew, getting a bit longer in time from 10-15 seconds, still has some fruit aroma but the pastry-like aspect is more in front, and the tea is creamy, comforting, not a hint of bitterness.

For some reason in the third brew, the fruit is back strong, and a pleasant brightness in the finish appears, leaving the sides of the tongue tingling with fruity acidity. The leaves are fully open now, and the cherry-like aroma in the gaiwan is still strong, rich, and pleasant. As with many darker oolongs, the bottom of the emptied tea cup smells to me like sweet candy.

In the 4th-6th brews or so, steeping for 20-30 seconds, the flavor and aroma starts to trend towards wood and spice. It is still creamy, with no bitterness whatsoever.

The 7th brew is about 1 minute. The “spiced” feeling coats the center of the tongue, tingling almost a little like Sichuan peppercorn at one point (is this real? haha!). Less fruity aroma, but a little bright acidity in the finish remains. Maybe a little floral aroma in the tea, which wasn’t noticeable before – or was overshadowed by the other aromas. The wet leaves start to smell of leather and spice. The body of the tea is getting lighter now.

At 8th brew it is still flavorful, a little lemony, spicy, slightly creamy body, but still round and balanced flavor. Much more pleasant at this late stage than most oolongs (or teas of any kind) that I have tried.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In later sessions, I found it was pretty much impossible to make this tea taste unpleasant with any length of steeping. Somehow all the bitterness has left these old leaves, leaving rich, fruity and interesting aromas and sensations behind. Some other aged oolongs I have tried have at least a bit of funk to them, a strange smell to the dry or wet leaves, or something at different stages of brewing… but not these! I feel very lucky to be able to try this tea.

 

from David:

Thank you so much for the fantastic tasting journal! I love those early morning tastings, before the palate is influenced by anything else while the light is perfect. These tastings serve as my daily bridge into the ‘normal’ day, since I often get up quite early to catch the end of the day with everyone over in China if we’re over in the US. That way when they have all gone to sleep, I can transition to the US morning with tea and collect my thoughts. Filtered tap water can be great. Carbon filters are nice because they leave a lot of fantastic mineral content unlike reverse osmosis. If you can do that, it is better than many spring waters, as I am noticing a lot more spring water brands switching to a softer plastic gallon jug that can leach flavor into the water.

I am really enjoying following the arc of your tasting as the cherry and fruit flavors emerge with a triumphant brightness, subside into creamy texture and are then counterbalanced by growing spice. It feels like a story or a dialog between the different aspects of the tea. I am especially excited about the sichuan peppercorn numbing quality. This is an incredibly thrilling part of tea tasting, and a flavor profile that I really try to seek out whenever I can.

Master Zhang would be excited about your notes on the tea not having mustiness or funk. He keeps his teas aging under strict humidity control, re-roasting as needed to bring residual moisture in the leaf down as much as possible to prevent off flavors and encourage only very slow change.

From: Heidi D.

Weather conditions – is it humid or dry, hot or cold, sunny or rainy?
75 degrees, 33% humidity, sunny, slight breeze, absolutely beautiful

Having tea on the back screened porch, with my tea connoisseur friend, Sybil, on Zoom. Birds in both our backyards are keeping us company and providing music.

Tea set up – Are you brewing in a pot, a mug, a gaiwan?
I’m brewing in a dark Yixing clay pot.

How about water – do you filter your water, or perhaps have a favorite spring water?

I am using deep well water filtered though an on-faucet Pur filter.

Dry Leaf – Open the bag, hold the leaves, smell them.
Dry leaves smell fruity, sweet… transports me to a Chinese tea market.

Wet Leaf –
The wet leaf smells burnt, toasty… like burnt peaches, with a hint of almond extract sharpness.

Tasting the Tea:
Aroma –
The brewed tea smells very toasty, a little woody.
2nd steep, the wet leaves quite smoky, very much like coffee beans roasting

Taste –
1st steep, the taste was very subtle up-front, but after swallowing quite intensely toasty, somewhat mineral, not at all sweet or floral

2nd steep — roasted peach pit

3rd steep — more toasty, more rocky, a sandalwood spiciness

4th steep — steeped rather long (oops), about 30 seconds, but not bitter! More intensely roasty/toasty and rocky, mineral

Subsequent steeps continue to build in toasty, mineral taste.

Texture – How does the tea actually feel as you sip it?
Smooth texture, getting more astringent with each steep.

Aftertaste – After you are finished with the tea, what sensations linger on?
The aftertaste is very toasty and mineral

2nd steep— a more mineral aftertaste that builds, with a lingering sensation of having eaten something burnt, but not in a bad way

Subsequent steeps, mineral aftertaste, slightly smoky

The most lingering sensation is a dry, astringent feeling on my tongue

 

Anything else you want to note:
This intensely roasty tea is one of those oolongs that, a few days after tasting, I find myself craving. That robust toastiness is like a comfort food, as satisfying as a hearty, crusty, toasted sourdough.

I enjoyed it on my back porch, accompanied by fresh woodland air and bird song, and in the virtual company of a dear friend.

 

from David:

Thank you so much for the fantastic tasting journal, and picture of a perfect outdoor tasting, The sun, the breeze, and of course, being able to connect even virtually with a friend really inform the tea tasting experience. With the weather getting better, we’ve been trying to have tea out in the grass to catch the smell of lilacs in the breeze.

I like your notes about how comforting this tea is. The toasty qualities here really do feel so calming and well-balanced. For me, drinking the tea feels like being at Master Zhang’s house. He is such an incredibly calm, quiet and deliberate person, that it only makes sense that his teas come out this way too. It is great to see the minerality building up through your tasting too. The soil in Daping up in the mountains is really special. We’ve been lucky enough to drink the spring water right out of the rock and taste the core of that sweet minerality that feeds the tea.

From: Matthew Sanders

My girlfriend Melissa and I tasted the 2000 AGED TIEGUANYIN as part of the community tasting. It was a sunny, 67°F, and lightly breezy spring day. Tons of birds in yard to provide a soundtrack to our sipping.

Brewing Method: Gaiwan, 7oz leaves
Water: Filtered Tap, 212°F

Dry Leaves: Twigs and leaves. Roasted Scent with light floral sweetness.
Wet Leaves: Scent of astringent smoke and fruit (nectarines/apricots)

Steep 1: 10 seconds
Aroma: Lightly Smoky
Taste: Lightly Smoky, Slightly Salty, Candied Magnolia
Texture: Soft

Steep 2: 13 seconds
Aroma: Fishy/seaweed, sweet undertone (like milk)
Taste: Tobacco, not salty, slightly tart, peach cider, sweet tea (when swished in mouth), sweeter as it cools; taking a sip of water after this steep tasted like rock sugar
Texture: Less soft, brighter

Steep 3: 16 seconds
Aroma: Very sweet, damp leaves, moth balls, port/raisiny
Taste: Less Toasty, more like cider, spicier, aftertaste of dried figs
Texture: softer than steep 2, not as soft as steep 1

Steep 4: 19 Seconds
Aroma: Woodsy, Pot smoke, cotton candy
Taste: Charred corn husk, nectarine, simple syrup (between the cotton candy aroma and the charred corn husk taste it reminded us of a fair or carnival)
Texture: Slightly Soft

Steep 5: 22 seconds
Aroma: Burnt Wood, damp campfire, less sweet
Taste: musty, floral cucumber, nondescript citrus, slightly harsher, sugar sweetness tastes more caramelized
Texture: Drying, chalky, chewy

Steep 6: 25 seconds
Aroma: damp campfire (but less than last steep), chlorine
Taste: Nutty, snow pea, pool water, hint of fruit (berry/currant)
Texture: Getting softer again

Steep 7: 32 seconds
Aroma: Sweeter, more vegetal
Taste: similar to last steep
Texture: similar to last steep

Steep 8: 40 seconds
Aroma: smoke, slightly fruity, burnt moss
Taste: Sweetness is mostly gone, light amber maple syrup, toasted marshmallow, fire roasted sweet potato
Texture: astringent, cooling sensation

Steep 9: 60 seconds
Aroma: Adirondack Mountains
Taste: sweeter again, cotton candy, maple, woodsy, smoky, mossy
Texture: cooling sensation, lightness in center of tongue while astringent on sides of tongue


Comparative tasting 2:

Brewing Method: Western, Yixing, 5oz leaves
Water: Filtered Tap, 212°F

Steep 1: 30 seconds
Taste: Roasted, Fruity (Mango), sweet then tart, aftertaste is floral/fruity/salty
Texture: not much body

Steep 2: 45 seconds
Taste: Very roasted and smoky, sweeter than first steep, more floral than fruity, slightly spicy finish, has that classic Tie Guan Yin flavor (just more heavily roasted)
Texture: Slightly astringent

Steep 3: 60 seconds
Aroma: Nuttier than before
Appearance: darker
Taste: sweetness is significantly diminished, most flavors slightly muted compared to last steep
Texture: More astringent

Steep 4: 105 seconds
Taste: Sweet again, nutty, slightly sour
Steep 5: 135 seconds
Taste: smoky, nutty, sweet, less floral, sour on sides and back of palette


Observations:

The western method of brewing may have tasted a little more like the traditional Tie Guan Yin we know and love, but the experience was vastly less interesting. This tea deserves the time to brew more, shorter steeps and therefore we recommend a Gaiwan.

 

PS.  I am shocked at how quickly the Lin Xi Collector’s Silver Moon Cup has been developing! [Here] is a pic of the rainbow iridescent coloring that has developed after less than a week of heavy usage. By the way, I noticed it was stealing a bit of flavor from my tea at first. As soon as a patina started to develop it stopped doing this. Is this common with this finish? Along that line, is this a porous glaze?

 

From David:

Thank you so much for this incredible tasting journal – lining up both Gongfu and western brewing methods. It is really revealing to try two styles of brewing or different brewing equipment back to back with the same tea. We’ve been doing that a lot recently with Jian Zhan versus Jingdezhen, Yixing, etc.

I love the journey you document for this tea – starting with that fascinating candied magnolia note. It is exciting to see the way the tea is changing and growing for you as the texture transforms and the flavors shift into fruity territory. I completely get that state fair note. We write down “State Fair” on a lot of our personal tasting notes as we explore a new tea – that something special which inevitably involves perfect sweet corn and perhaps cotton candy, or even funnel cake. It is a super evocative thought and awesome to see that you’re thinking along the same lines.

It is great to see that way the tea grows into its cooling foresty self – Master Zhang would love the tasting note of the Adirondack Mountains. It is interesting what a different direction the tea goes in over your western brew, and definitely lines up with what we’ve seen. (I’m drinking the 1990 Tieguanyin as I write).

Thank you for the picture of the Silver Moon Jian Zhan from Lin Xi. We’ve had a blast with those cups, as they change significantly over the first few weeks before starting to ‘slow down’ and move from shifting into the deeper pink and gold tones to building that iridescence you mention. I think it might be fun to post some pictures on the site of how these Jian Zhan grow next to the new cups after a year to show the way Lin Xi’s work changes.

The Jian Zhan definitely steals some aroma and flavor the first few brews, like Yixing teapots. They are very “hungry” for those tea oils and trap volatile aromatics in the crackling / nucleation sites on the glazes surface. They are not super porous like Yixing, but more like celadon, as the way they are used in China people don’t think of the seasoning as influencing the final brew as much as yixing would, but moreover adding depth and patina to the glaze. I’ve tried using Lin Xi’s Jian Zhan for whiskey and wine with great effect, and notice that they hold onto the flavor for a few uses and then move back towards a neutral state as I switch back to tea.

I am so glad you get to experience this transformation that Jian Zhan goes through. We’re really excited to be working with Lin Xi, and learning from his and Li Xiangxi’s experiments in whisking matcha in Jian Zhan and restoring old school Song Dynasty ceremony.

From: Anonymous D

We’ve been drinking this tea every morning for three days now in our backyard tea house. The weather has been sunny with temperatures in the low to mid 70’s and around 40% humidity.

Doing it using different methods to see if we can detect any variations using charcoal filtered and uv treated Los Angeles tap water brought to a boil and 5 grams of tea.

Day 1, brewed in gong fu style in gaiwan.
Day 2, used Yixing teapot dedicated to Wolong teas.
Day 3, used Smacha strainer type teapot.

Dry leaves are black, small and tightly curled. Slight grass smell.
Wet leaves open up into a very dark brownish green full leaf. New cut grass smell.
The smell description is my wife’s. I have no sense of smell as result of severe facial fractures many decades ago.

Brewed color is a brilliant yellow gold.

Mouth feel is smooth and buttery.

The taste is very enjoyable and somewhat grassy. Best taste from gaiwan, probably because I can control the brew time and judge the color better than the other methods. Have only used the Yixing teapot a dozen or so times so far.

Our Smacha teapot uses a fixed filter time, so the taste intensity increases with the 2nd brew and then gradually decreases with the subsequent brews.

Gong fu we use 9 brews of about 100 ml.

Smacha, 5 brews of about 140 ml.

After our morning session, I put the leaves into a 300 ml tea bottle and brew again grandpa style to have with lunch. Still has good color and taste.

 

from David:

I am really grateful that you made time to be part of this community tasting, and happy that Master Zhang’s tea has been good company for several days in a row. Your backyard teahouse is beautiful! What a fantastic space to carve out for tea. It makes such a difference to be outside! Li Xiangxi loves brewing the same tea at the Yangxian Tea Institute that she runs with her uncle, and outdoors at her family home in Tongmu to show us how much of a difference there is when you have access to outdoor humidity sun, the breeze, and the sounds.

That smooth buttery mouthfeel is such a fantastic part of Tieguanyin, and it is incredible that Master Zhang preserved that even over 20 years of aging. That quality comes through strongly in all his traditional Tieguanyin finishes as well, and has to do with the time he takes in turning and fluffing the fresh leaves before firing.

Thanks for reading along!

Please feel free to post your own notes below and keep the conversation going, or join our next community tasting by signing up for the Daily Deal Tasting Journal Newsletter here >>>

 

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